Browsing the archives for the Events category.

Macy’s Parade Balloon Inflation 2010


On the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, the streets surrounding the American Museum of Natural History are closed to traffic and are filled instead with giant character balloons which will fly down the avenue in the Thanksgiving Parade on Thursday.

The balloons are held down by ropes and sandbags while they are inflated. Thousands of people of all ages come to watch them be inflated, hawkers selling small balloons and snacks come too,  and it is a holiday street event to start the lovely, long Thanksgiving weekend.

If you are coming with young children, try to come early when it is less crowded, from 3pm to about 5pm.

By 5pm many balloons have their final shape. Young children get lots of pleasure from this, even if they see only a few balloons.

The viewing is from 3pm to about 10pm, on West 77-81st Street, Columbus Avenue and Central Park West .

If you are coming into town by car, do not try to drive around and see the balloons, it is not possible, not enjoyable, it would be just a frustrating traffic jam with sad children in the car. Park somewhere else, perhaps in a garage, and walk or take a cab to as close as you can get.

Or better yet, come earlier in the day and go to the American Museum of Natural History and enjoy the new fabulous exhibit about the Human Brain, or visit the New York Historical Society, then walk out of the museum and enjoy watching the balloons being inflated.

That would be really smart of you!

Here are a few family friendly restaurants nearby: Fred’s (83 and Amsterdam), Jackson Hole (85 and Columbus), Uno’s (81 and Columbus), Ray’s Pizza (82 and Columbus), Famous Original Ray’s Pizza (don’t even ask) (82 and Amsterdam, Shake Shack (Columbus and 77)…..there are many more just a few blocks away from the crowds.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Houdini:Art and Magic at the Jewish Museum and a New Musical Drama about Raoul Wallenberg by NYCGuy

Events, Theater, Uncategorized, exhibit

Friday I went to the Jewish Museum to check out the just opened Houdini exhibit, Houdini:Art and Magic. It has all the same kind of oddities, paraphernalia & interesting factoids that made the museum’s earlier Sarah Bernhardt such a smash. Houdini contains video clips, including silent films made by the Budapest-born magician, who like Bernhardt was an early star of the medium.

There’s even a photo of the two together.

A scene from eponymous 1953 movie features a young Tony Curtis in what ironically was the breakout film that launched his career.

The Bronx born actor, the child of Hungarian Jewish immigrants, apparently spoke only Magyar until he was 5 or 6. His 2nd wife, whom he met while filming Taras Bulba, was the German actress Christine Kaufmann, mirroring Houdini’s marriage to German American Bess.

Both the former Erik Weisz & the former Bernard Schwartz who played him escaped poverty. Ironically, the exhibit’s opening was bracketed by Curtis’  death on September 29 and the 74th anniversary of Houdini’s death on Halloween.

Like the Sarah Bernhardt show, this one displays the impresario’s magical hold on our imagination. Late in life, it appears the actor experienced a renewed interest in his Hungarian Jewish roots, establishing a foundation in his father’s name that has among other things, helped restore Europe’s largest synagogue, on Dohany Street in Budapest. (The foundation is based in Queens where Houdini’s buried.) Which leads me to the next unsolicited endorsement, a new musical drama I was invited to see the following evening…..

I would never have pictured a musical being made based on the experience of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who managed to outwit the Nazis & safeguard an estimated 100,000 Jews in Budapest.

This is no Springtime for Hitler. Saturday evening’s world premier is part of a relaunch of the White Plains Performing Arts Center as a venue for new works. Can a theater in a downtown mall challenge New Haven’s role as try-out stage for Broadway? Maybe. It’s an hour closer to Grand Central. The theater is very comfortable but non-descript.

The new artistic director Annette Jolles has two Emmys, six nominations, experience directing,choreographing & producing at major venues in Manhattan & London & a musical theater teaching gig at Yale. Oddly, the 1st thing that made me think this was serious was the set, which frames the stage, with “stones.” When the curtains open there’s a vista of the Hungarian capital. Having seen the real thing from the station platform at 6:00AM on a August morning, while traveling from Prague to Belgrade, it felt like I was again in Budapest.

With artful props, the space becomes various exteriors & interiors with views of the city & its river. But it takes more than architectural tricks & magic of lighting. It seems the librettists, Laurence Holtzman & Felicia Needleman spent several years researching everything they could get a hold of re the Wallenberg story & those rescued, including a scene from drownings in the Danube that brought to mind those of Operation Condor. This pair has done musical theater & cabaret, the latter of which can be very personal & very grand. Add a symphony orchestra & stir. It’s happened at Lincoln Center. Still, a musical about the Holocaust & a hero whose fate was Stalin’s gulag, seems incongruous. Yet, here’s the opening number,: .

The composer, Benjamin Rosenbluth, trained with such masters as Pulitzer Prize winners Milton Babbitt & John Corigliano. Is there an Ernő Rubik to solve the puzzle of bringing this sung story of real life New York sister city Budapest 30 minutes south to a Broadway stage?

Meanwhile, you have through November 21 to escape to this unexpected gem in Westchester.

This post is by guest author NYCGuy

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Events, Film, Uncategorized
The JEWISH WOMEN’S FILM FESTIVAL is a presentation of
films submitted in competition and never before exhibited
commercially in the New York metropolitan area. The films
focus on experiences, aspirations, and accomplishments of
Jewish women through the ages and throughout the world.
The festival is organized by the ELEANOR LEFF JEWISH
and was rededicated and named in honor of Eleanor Leff in
2000. JWRC explores, documents, and celebrates the full
range of Jewish women’s experiences – religious, secular,
public and private. Its goals are achieved through ongoing
programs, special events, conferences, publications, book
discussions, lectures, seminars, workshops, and readings.
The National Council of Jewish Women is a grassroots
organization of volunteers and advocates who turn
progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values,
NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of
life for women, children and families and by safeguarding
individual rights and freedoms.

The JEWISH WOMEN’S FILM FESTIVAL is a presentation of films submitted in competition and never before exhibited commercially in the New York metropolitan area. The films focus on experiences, aspirations, and accomplishments of Jewish women through the ages and throughout the world. The National Council of Jewish Women is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of  for women, children and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.

There are 2 sessions

THE JEWISH WOMEN’S FILM FESTIVAL    Sunday, November 14, 2010

Baruch Performing Arts Center at Baruch College E. 25th Street between Lexington & 3rd Avenues 55 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

SESSION 1 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM


Director: Gay Block. (47 Minutes) – Women who were together at Camp Pinecliffe in 1981 reminisce about their camp experience – happy, sad, funny, sentimental, life-changing – more than 25 years later. With whom

do you identify?


Director: Ruth Fertig. (22 Minutes) – Creatively using live-action and animation, the filmmaker, via her grand-mother’s memoirs, takes us on a journey recreating the experiences of the family during the Holocaust. It is a

story of resilience, survival, and hope.


(Directors: Ron Ofer and Yohai Hakak. (50 Minutes-subtitles) – Through determination, ingenuity, resource-fulness and their own personal magnetism, two Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) women, Adina Bar-Shalom and Rachel

Chalkowski (Bambi), effect major social change among the women in their community.


Director: Y. Enav. (24 Minutes-subtitles) – A seemingly generous and compassionate dentist confronts repressed memories of the Holocaust, resulting in an unexpected assault on one of her patients that leads

to her arrest. Be a spectator to the unraveling mystery and its surprising denouement.


2:30 PM – 5:30 PM


Director: Yael Kipper. (61 Minutes-subtitles) – Nine years after being critically wounded and losing her younger brother in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, Maytal embarks on her biggest challenge – her decision to undergo fertility treatments to have a child as a single mother.


Director: Susan Schwarzwald. (26 Minutes) – On the 11th birthday of her own child, Lily – daughter of a refugee from Hitler’s Germany – reminisces about a childhood trip her family took back to her father’s native city of

Vienna. Through the lens of memory, she re-visits the pain of remembering, tinged with the fear of forgetting, that silently haunts her father, herself, and her young daughter. (Director’s comment).


Directors: Noam Demsky, Mordi Kershner. (48 Minutes-subitles) – Who is a Jew? How about Incas from Peru? View this fascinating commentary about the Valderama family and their struggle to convert to Judaism, and, finally, their arrival in Israel.


Director: Y. Enav. (5 Minutes) – The briefest of come-

dies depicting a worldwide problem with which all

women can identify and have often experienced!


The Eleanor Leff Jewish Women’s Resource Center will present its Ellie Award

to the Director of the Best Film as selected by an independent panel of judges.


Film Sessions:

NCJW Members: $12.00 per session

(If Purchased in Advance)


$15.00 per session

Reception (Advance Purchase Required):

Dietary Laws Observed

NCJW Members: $75.00 (Includes session 1 or 2)

Nonmembers: $90.00 (Includes session 1 or 2)

Friends of NCJW:

Patron: $125.00

(Includes reception, sessions 1 and 2, and name

in program)

$60.00 tax deductible

Benefactor: $150.00

(Includes reception, sessions 1 and 2,

and name in program) $85.00 tax deductible


In Person: Purchase tickets at NCJW NY offices

Monday – Thursday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Friday: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

By Phone: (212) 687-5030, ext. 14

Monday – Thursday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Friday: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

At the Door: $18.00 per session


The JEWISH WOMEN’S RESOURCE CENTER began in 1977 and was rededicated and named in honor of Eleanor Leff in 2000. JWRC explores, documents, and celebrates the full range of Jewish women’s experiences – religious, secular, public and private. Its goals are achieved through ongoing programs, special events, conferences, publications, book discussions, lectures, seminars, workshops, and readings.

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Scribblers on the Roof, 11th Season

Events, Literary event, Uncategorized

The pleasant open air roof top of Congregation Ansche Chesed as been the site of Scribblers on the Roof.

Invited authors read from their published work or works in progress, and take  questions from the audience.  These evenings are well attended, and the roof top views of the West Side and the night sky are lovely. Mondays at 8 pm.  251 W 100th st between Broadway and West End Avenue. The dates are June 21, June 28, July 12, and July 26.

June 21   Andre Aciman Eight White   Nights   Out of Egypt  Call Me by Your Name

Pearl Abraham America Taliban   The Romance Reader    The Seventh Beggar21

June 28   Daniel Menaker A Good Talk   The Treatment   Old Left

Jonathan Rosen The Life of the Skies  The Talmud and the Internet  Joy Comes in the Morning

July 12   Joan Leegant Wherever You Go   An Hour in Paradise

Tova Mirvis The Outside World  The Ladies Auxiliary

July26    Howard Altmann In This House   Who Collects the Days

Trudy Balch Gaby Brimmer: An Autobiography in Three Voices (translator)

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First Tuesday’s at the Hayden Planetarium

Events, Guest Author: Jeff French Segall

It seems that twice a month, on the first and last Tuesday of each month,  the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History presents a new show especially targeted toward a very special audience – one that truly loves astronomy and appreciates learning about new discoveries in the field. Lily and I really had a wonderful time at the Hayden Planetarium last week.

The one hour show,  The Farthest Reaches of the Cosmic Ocean with Jason Kendall, which began at 6:30, focused on bigness.  Jason Kendall is “an ambassador of NASA”  and he was expertly knowledgeable and a charming narrator. In the Planetarium’s first show after it’s renovation, Tom Hanks show narrated the wonder of the super small morphing into the small, morphing into the visible, morphing into big, then super big and then utterly colossally big, all in one program.

This show, however, by intention and design, completely ignored the micro, and guided us into the universe of the macro.  We started out examining our own planet and moon, then quickly zoomed out to the inner planets, then further out to the outer planets, then further out till the sun shrank to the size of the other points of light we call stars, then further zoomed out to constellations, then further out to the limits of our galaxy, the Milky Way, then further out to nearby galaxies, then to farther galaxies, then to a universe of galaxies, to the horizon of our vision and knowledge.

Jason Kendall skillfully narrated and projected the astronomical images, speeding us through space, light-years and time, all the way back to 13-½ billion years ago, to the point of the Big Bang.  Throughout the presentation, the stars on the dome zoomed further and further away from us, some stars speeding as fast as a racing locomotive, others passing by more slowly.

The effect was that of 3-D without the need for Red/Green glasses.  It was an astounding production. It was visually glorious.

The audience, consisted of people of all ages – even children, and seemed especially sophisticated. In the Q and A period, they asked keen and challenging questions. One such challenge was: “If the Big Bang occurred 13 ½ billion years ago, then what was there 14 billion years ago? Could it not have been a previous universe imploding upon itself, crushing all its matter into a single point which then exploded into the current universe, with this expansion and contraction having been happening for all of time?”  The answers were similarly challenging: “There was no 14 billion years ago.  All space and all time started 13 ½ billion years ago.” The narrator suggested that the questioner google “Chaotic Inflation” for a deeper analysis of that proposition.

In its former incarnation, the old Hayden Planetarium building was like a second home for me when I was a member of its Junior Astronomers Club.  I remember the awe of their shows in which we took imaginary voyages to the planets. In the Voyage to Mars, the red planet loomed larger and larger inside the dome, giving the effect of we in the audience falling faster and faster toward the surface of the fourth planet of our solar system.  Likewise, other shows featured similar trips to Jupiter and Saturn.

In short, the new Hayden Planetarium takes us even further, indeed, fulfilling my hopeful vision for it – that of exciting the imagination and opening up a world of possibilities and ideas. We are all the richer for it.

Jeff French Segall

Guest Author

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WritopiaLab’s Award-Winning Teen Writers Read at B&N

Events, Literary event, Uncategorized

Come hear award-winning teen writers read their newest pieces;

The award-winning teen writers and rising stars of Writopia Lab will read excerpts from their newest prose at Barnes & Noble at 82nd Street and Broadway on Thursday February, 4th at 5pm.

This remarkable group of young people have revised and polished stunning pieces of fiction and memoir, and they are thrilled to share their work with you.

Buy Books and B & N Will Make a Donation to Writopia Lab

Also, please hold off on any book purchases you’re about to make–when you buy books the night of the reading (at that location), 10% of the purchase price will be donated to Writopia!

Just make sure to tell the cashier you’re buying books as part of the Writopia Lab book fair.

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Cosmic Ocean Trip at the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater

Events, Film, Lily's notes, exhibit

Travel through the  the COSMIC OCEAN at the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater at the AMNH with their program: Virtual Universe: The Farthest Reaches of the Cosmic Ocean with Jason Kendall.

The museum says that this is the  world’s largest cosmic atlas, and that we can cruise through intergalactic space, and explore the immense distances between galaxies,  learning about the universe and how it has changed with time. We New Yorkers will just have to accept that the program begins and ends in the Himalayas and not in Manhattan.

Virtual Universe, travels through our solar system and beyond in live, interactive programs that include question-and-answer on the first Tuesday of each month.

A preview is available on YouTube.  Some of the viewers comments on YouTube following the Virtual Universe video are so inane and weird that they seem to map the inner  infinity of the universe of human strangeness, you may enjoy those too.

Tuesday, February 2, 6:30 pm, $15 Adults $13.50 Members, students, seniors

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Live at Martha Stewart Blog Show

Events, Lily's notes

The bloggers who came to be in the audience do not seem to be a political or edgy bunch but are very domestic: mom’s who write about motherhood, grandmothers about their grandchildren, and urban gardening. Many say they hope to promote their blogs, and others hope to receive gifts.

I heard no politicos or discussion about what a blog is, or the effect of blogs on news and society…not in the audience nor on stage.

We were welcomed and treated very cordially, as guests, and it was really fun to attend this show.

The atmosphere  is a very special and refined small slice of mild living. A welcome one hour vacation  from the current reality of terrible world news and problems.

Martha carefully crafted with focus: gluing “left-over” yarn onto decorations…but there is nothing left-over about the show. It is fascinating to watch this relaxed, successful, pleasant woman promote her enterprises.

After the show, and off-camera, Martha took several questions from the audience. Very nice.

A perfectly frosted and sliced piece of cake has been served!

And we all enjoyed it.

Thank you, Martha. You are a perfect host.

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Martha Stewart Blog Show

Events, Lily's notes, Uncategorized

GothamGirl  is fortunate to receive many invitations, most are to film festivals, concerts, art openings, museum shows and restaurants. Recently we were surprised by an invitation from The Martha Stewart show asking us to join the audience  on January 14 in New York City.

The topic is bloggers and blogging, and they have requested that all of the invited bloggers come ready to blog live during the broadcast. This sounded like just too much fun to pass up and I will be there on Thursday all ready to blog live.

Rebecca-Wallace Segall, the founder and director of WritopiaLab will be there as well. The WritopiaLab’s blog is excellent: it is the spectacular work of the young writers of WritopiaLab. Rebecca is the  Scholastic Golden Apple National Award winner (2008 and 2009).

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14th Sephardic Film Festival

Events, Film, Lily's notes

It seems to be film festival season. Don’t mix this festival up with the NY Jewish Film Festival (see previous posts),  the Sephardic festival is the only  annual film festival in America devoted solely to the rich and colorful stories, customs and culture of Sephardic Jewry. Thirteen films, including three American and seven New York premieres will be shown. Also, there are talk backs with directors scheduled.

We always enjoy this festival, especial the variety of countries encountered, the music in the films, Sephardim in the audience greeting each other with warm smiles, and the variety of languages, this year: English, Hebrew, Ladino, Amharic, French, Japanese, Bulgarian, Moraccan, Spanish, etc …Yiddish….. ok, ok,  probably not Yiddish. But some of us are “Ashke-Phardic ” and enjoy all of the possibilities.

Please see The Sephardic Film for screening details and tickets.

Sponsored by the  American Sephardi Federation/Sephardic House (ASF) and Yeshiva University Museum. Supported by the Consulate General of Israel in New York. Here is their schedule at a glance.

Opening Night
Feb. 4th @ 7:30pm COCO
Followed by Opening Night Reception
Saturday Feb. 6th @ 7:30pm A MATTER OF SIZE
Feb. 6th @ 9:30pm HONOR
Sunday Feb. 7th @1:00pm LÉON- A NEW ENCOUNTER
Feb. 7th @ 3:30pm MASHALA
Feb. 7th @ 3:30pm FIESTAREMOS!
Feb. 7th @ 5:30pm REVIVRE – PART 1
Feb. 7th @9:00pm REVIVRE – PART 2
Monday Feb. 8th @ 2:00pm COCO
Feb. 8th @ 6:30pm ACROSS THE RIVER
Tuesday Feb. 9th @ 6:30pm REVIVRE – PART 2
Feb. 9th @ 9:30pm PILLAR OF SALT
Wednesday Feb. 10th @ 2:00pm SALVADOR
Feb. 10th @ 6:30pm AZI AYIMA
Feb. 10th @ 7:30pm HONOR / AT THE JCC – MANHATTAN
Feb. 10th @ 8:30pm QUEEN KHANTARISHA
Closing Night
Feb. 11th @ 7:00pm CHILDREN OF THE BIBLE
Followed by Closing Night Reception
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Klez for Kids on December 25, 2009 at 11am

Concert, Events

This sounds like much more fun than the usual movies and Chinese food for Christmas! The Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge Street (in the Eldridge Street Synagogue), Between Canal & Division Streets is having this fun family concert. This is also a good opportunity to visit this restored, historic building, it is truly stunning.

Live Concert

Sing, dance, learn Yiddish and “get married” at our annual family concert. Clarinetist Greg Wall and his band Klezmerfest lead the audience on a musical tour of Eastern European Jewish culture. The program ends with an audience-enacted shtetle wedding with children taking on the roles of bride, groom and wedding guests.

$12 adults; $8 students and seniors

RSVP to: hgriff(at) or call 212.219.0888 x 205

The Museum at Eldridge Street presents the culture, history and traditions of the great wave of Jewish immigrants to the Lower East Side drawing parallels with the diverse cultural communities that have settled in America. The Museum at Eldridge Street is located within the Eldridge Street Synagogue, which opened its doors in 1887

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Comfort Ye – the Fifteenth Annual Concert to Benefit the Homeless

Concert, Events

GothamGirl received this invitation from the The Interfaith Assembly, the West -Side Campaign Against Hunger, New York Cares and Lauren Flanigan and Stars from the Metropolitan  Opera and the New York City Opera and we recommend that you attend and bring a donation as suggested.

Symphony Space Marque

Symphony Space Marque

Comfort Ye – the Fifteenth Annual Concert to Benefit the Homeless

Monday, December 21, 2009

7:30 PM

Peter J.  Sharp Theater

Symphony Space

95th Street & Broadway


5 or more cans of food items or 1 clean used overcoat or 1 clean blanket or

5 packages infant/toddler diapers or Cash Donation of $40

All funds raised will  benefit the Interfaith Assembly and their programs. If you have attended this concert in the past you know what a treat it is. If you have not, you owe it to yourself to come – You will not be disappointed.  And BE SURE TO INVITE YOUR FRIENDS – they will surely thank you!

During these difficult times, the Assembly and their partners are working hard to help those who have been homeless to rebuild their lives, and establish more  equitable public policies for those in our city who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. See their webite for more details on the work they do and about this event.

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Handel’s Messiah at the NY Philharmonic

Concert, Events, Lily's notes

This is a performance of Handel’s Messiah, not a sing-along, and the soloists, chorus and musicians made it all truly worthwhile. The countertenor, Daniel Taylor was stunning, a clear beautiful voice with such clear diction that one could understand the words as they were sung. The Bass is a singer originally from China with just one name, Shenyang , and he was excellent as was the James Taylor (not THAT tenor named James Taylor, silly), the soprano, Annette Dasch was very fine. We all loved the trumpets featuring Philip Smith, one of our favorite NY Phil musicians. The chorus is the Gachinger Kantorei Stuttgart and they were an excellent chorus, blending as one voice and forming clear sectional parts.  This runs through Saturday, December 19, 2009.

It is most interesting to examine the text of the oratorio, just like a cut and paste, a line from here and a line from there from Isaiah, the psalms, and the Christian bible, which has been interpreted and arranged  to “tell”  the story of  the nativity, suffering  and crucifixion.  How different these lines sound when they are sung or chanted in Hebrew with the traditional Jewish cantilation. There are no trumpets in my synagogue.

And then there is the question of whether the audience should stand, supposedly as did the King of England for reasons unknown, or should remain seated for the splendid Hallelujah chorus. I sat, my friend was the first in the audience to stand.

There are so many seasonal music events in New York City and last week we were at  another holiday concert: A Twisted Christmas at the Nokia theater on Times Square, by our favorite metal band, Twisted Sister. This was a lot, lot, lot of fun.  They performed old and new songs and their metal versions of Christmas songs, and the stage show was a riot. This is not at all the Radio City version of Christmas. They have done a Christmas show each year for the last four or five years. Look for it next year.

It is tremendous fun to take in a wide sample of musical styles, so break out of your rut and see something very different.

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Thanksgiving Day Balloon Inflation on the UWS


The annual balloon inflation for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade starts this afternoon on the Upper West Side. It is an Upper west Side street party which starts off this holiday weekend.

Starting at about 2 pm, (officially at 6 pm) you can watch the big balloons being inflated by hard working, good spirited crews from Macy’s on  West 81s St, and West 77th St  between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, and Central Park West in front of the American Museum of Natural History.. . This goes on through the evening and attracts loads of people of all ages.

The delicious Spiderman balloon and a few others have been inflated on 77th Street and small groups are there enjoying the event at this  time…(3 pm), crowds will come later.

Various street vendors add to the atmosphere, and don’t forget to walk by the New York Historical Society on CPW and 77 th Street. In the past, they have had people dressed in early American period costumes and hot cider. I do not know if they will do this tonight.

Please remember that you can see just about nothing if you try to drive by and peer out of your car windows- you would be adding to the street congestion and not make the kiddies happy at all. Park somewhere else and walk around, there will be plenty to see and do.. and please see last year’s entry for more details and photos.

Also, stop in at the local restaurants up and down Columbus Avenue, all are family friendly tonight.

And  in case you are visiting America for the first time in this season and did not know: Thanksgiving is the holiday most celebrated by the largest number of Americans.

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving.

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Halloween Block Party October 31 on West 90th Street

Events, Lily's notes

Each year the Park West 90th Street Park Association  organizes a lovely, welcoming event for children and adults who would love to enjoy seeing the kids have a great time.

West 90th Street between CentralPark West and Columbus Avenue will be filled with spooky decorations, glowing carved pumpkins on brownstone stoops, lighted displays, and a welcome table in front of #35. The residents of the block , many in costume, give out candy in front of the buildings. A few lobbies welcome trick or treat visitors inside as well.

This  has the wonderful, old-fashioned spirit of a child’s Halloween party and attracts many, many neighborhood families. It is  also a lovely display of the variety of families who live on the Upper West Side.

Many of the doggies on the block turn out in costume as well. Please remember: do not let the dogs eat chocolate. These are the same dogs who take part in the West 90th Street Dog Parade during the clean-up/planting party each Spring.

The street will be closed to traffic at 4 pm. Residents will decorate the block from that time on and  from 5:30 to 7pm  the goblins etc are welcome.

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Central Park Storm Damage Update

Events, Lily's notes

In case you missed this news, on August 18, 2009, Central Park was it by an intense storm with of winds up to 80 miles per hour.

This short,  intense event damaged about 1000 trees north of 90th Street, and 400 hundred trees were completely lost. The oldest tree which was removed  was 159 years old and the tallest was 100 feet tall.

The Central Park Conservancy says that, “Many of the trees removed were among the tallest, largest, and finest specimens in Central Park.”  Their site has many photos and details about the storm.

Now is the time to step up and help restore our well-loved park by volunteering and /or donating.

We must do our part now so that  future generations will have a lovely park, just as we enjoy today.

Please see the Central Park Conservancy site for more details and photos about the storm, the damage, and to learn about volunteering/donation.

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Monet’s Water Lilies at the MoMA

Art, Events

The current exhibit of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies at the Museum of Modern Art fills  one small gallery with the lucious color, light and the timelessness of Monet’s masterpieces.  It will run from September 13 through April 12, 2010. There are two triptics of the waterlilies and four smaller paintings. This is the entire group of the museum’s collection of his late paintings, exhibited togther for the first time, plus two which are on loan.

Take your time to look at these so that they can unfold to you, and look at them from different angles to appreciate the light play across the paint surface. This gallery feels like a chapel to Monet and to  the art of painting.  No matter how many times I see these paintings they are always fresh and new.

Try to take your time and really see them even if the exhibit gets crowded and check out the MoMA website for tips on visiting the museum.

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Carole Eisner’s Monumental Scultpures on the Broadway Malls

Art, Events

Sculptor Carole Eisner’s nine monumental works,  made from twisted and curved steel, will be on view in the Broadway malls from 64th to 166th Streets from September 9 through December 8 2009.

To view the Installation Map, and locate where you can see these please go to:

Remember to call the toll-free number while you are viewing the scultures and  listen to artist recordings, describing the sculptures.

The Susan Eley Gallery, our most favorite uptown gallery, is a sponsor of this exhibit.  Kudos to Susie for bringing this to the malls on Broadway!

This show is made possible by Broadway Mall Association, in conjunction with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and Susan Eley Fine Art.

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The Bacchae at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park

Events, Lily's notes, Theater

Euripides’ complex and disturbing ancient play, The Bacchae,  about disrupting the so-called “natural” order in society, personal delusion vs reality,  and the consequences is produced movingly by the Public Theatre in Central Park as the second play for this season of  “Shakespeare in the Park”.

The score is by Philip Glass and  the play is given its bone-chilling, gripping life by a spectacular women’s chorus.  The score and chorus would be reason enough to see the play, and there is a very fine cast and production, as well. Try not to miss this production.

As a reminder if you haven’t read your classics in a while, the Bacchae are women who have entered a state of ecstasy and delusion by following the charismatic, seductive, handsome, pitiless, vengeful, god Dionysus. They destroy society by leaving their so-called natural subservient place in society and going up into the mountains for the “worship” of Dionysus: that is Bacchanalia which are orgies with hideous and murderous details. This is quite something for a summer play in the park.    

Do not miss the excellent notes and explanations in the Playbill about the  Bacchae, Euripides and His Times, and the Royal House of  Thebes, which will make you very appreciative that you are not a relative of the Royal House of  Thebes expected at up-coming  holiday dinners.

We left the park discussing the production and the complex issues raised by the play itself. There is plenty for all points of  view to discuss. That is the mark of a terrific production.

We saw this last night, in the open air of the Delacorte Theater, and as the actors invoked Dionysus, the god of Thunder, we were surrounded by nature’s spectacular lightning and  an approaching intense summer thunder storm.  The audience remained gripped by the play and left the park quickly due to the impending weather. Shortly after the end of the play, this storm hit Manhattan with terrific force, even toppling mature trees  into the streets as on West 88th St,  throwing branches onto the streets, sidewalks and cars,  sent cafe chairs sliding up Columbus Avenue,  and wrecked awnings around the Upper West Side.     

How to get your FREE TICKETS: arrive early in the day and wait on line (BTW: New Yorkers wait “on line”, it is a localism, the rest of you wait “in line”).  Seniors  65 and above have their own line, and there is now a Virtual Line. See the Public’s website for full details.

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Elie Wiesel at the Zamir Choral Festival 2009

Concert, Events, Lily's notes

As Elie Wiesel the novelist, journalist and Nobel Prize for Peace winner was honored at the final event of the Zamir Choral Festival 2009, and he did much more than merely accept  an award of recognition from the Zamir Choral - he stood on the stage and sang alone.

He sang a few niggunim from his hometown of Sighet to the 450 participants in the Festival.

The participants had learned these niggunim during the festival and then sang with him in four part harmony. It was very moving to hear him sing, and then to sing together…it was an emotional musical bridge from the Europe of the past to the Jewish community of the present  in America.

He stayed afterwards and very graciously shook people’s hands and accepted their good wishes and thanks. It felt like a visit from a respected, beloved, close relative.

Dr Ruth Westheimer had arrived at the Festival and was honored as well.

Dear tiny dynamo Dr Ruth, is now a film-maker and had her new film about Bedouin women with her; her ongoing creativity is an inspiration.

There are many so many ways to be a witness.

The Festival was an exciting and fulfilling experience: so many fine musically talented and knowledgeable people, such all-over good spirit, excellent workshops and classes, late night jam sessions,  schmoozing laughter-filled meals with new and old friends, and wonderful choral concerts!

At one late night jam, the terrifically talented singer, Magda Fishman, sang and played the trumpet(!) with 2 guitars, a piano and several flutes. Fun!

We returned home happily exhausted and would attend again next year.

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Hudson Valley Resort and Zamir Choral

Concert, Events, Lily's notes

We drove up the  NY State Thruway through the Hudson Valley to the Catskill Mountains on this glorious, sunny day…finally the month of rains has ended. We have arrived at the Hudson Valley Resort for the 20th annual Zamir Choral Festival, July 12-16.

The mountains are glorious, we drove past  the Mohonk Mountain Preserve with it’s rough ridge; it has a wall of stone like the Palisades. At the foot of the ridge, we stopped and watched rock climbers getting ready to ascend the cliffs.

But our destination is the Zamir Choral Festival and here the rooms, hallways and dining room are all filled with truly fine music, and nice company.

The entire atmosphere is lovely. If you are reading this because you are considering attending a future Zamir Choral Festival, I would encourage you to attend. See their site  for program specifics.

The resort is run by very helpful and pleasant staff, the pools are lovely, and the rooms are pleasant and very adequate.

We met participants who have come from, Australia, Toronto, Milwaukee, and from the greater New York City area. Nice mix of people, different ages and life-styles. I think that there are about 450 participants, not sure.

I attended a class given by Velvel Pasternak of  Tara Music on the history of Jewish music which was absolutely fun and excellent. He is a great authority on Jewish music and funny story-teller.

Tonight we will attened a choral concert.

More on the specifics later…I want to take another walk around the grounds and through the shuk of vendors with my doggie who has come along.

Yes, this resort is both pet-friendly and it is people friendly.

Very unusual.

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Golem Stories and Cities of Light

Events, Lily's notes, Literary event, Theater

I just can’t get enough of that Golem. The many forms, retellings and spin-off s are always fascinating. 

In the best known version of  legend, The Maharal of Prague, Rabbi Judah Loew, created a living man out of clay with the intention that this creature would protect the Jews of Prague from anti-Semitic attacks.

Things get quite out of hand with this golem just going much too far, and The Maharal has to find a way to kill this creature he created. This story is very moving and works on all  levels, both the allegorical and literal.  Many plays and stories have been based on the Golem, or are a re-telling of the story. Frankenstein’s Monster and  Supermanand other super-heroes owe a great deal of their lineage to The Golem.

The idea of a golem has an extremely long history in Jewish culture:  it  is a living,  human-like creature but lacks a soul, it is always made of clay by a  holy man and implies a good deal of hubris in imitating the divine creation. It always gets out of hand. In some versions, the creator of the golem must write on the forehead of the golemor written place notes inside of its mouth to get it under control or to even kill the  wild,  out of control Golem! 

 Golem Stories is a staged retelling of the golem story by on  May 27, 2009 at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th St, at 7pm, followed by a discussion of Jewish legends and midrash. This evening is free but you must register in advance.

While on the CJH site check out their cabaret night called Cities of Light scheduled for June 10 at 6:30pm.

Both of these evening are part of the  Untitled Theater Company’s  Festival of Jewish Theater and Ideas May 20 through June 14. They will have over 100 performances at many venues throughout the city.

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AF1 Flight with Fighter Jets Over Manhattan Was Gross Stupidity

Events, Lily's notes

What insensitivity, ignorance, complete stupidity and incompetence was demonstrated by the federal government in yesterday’s fly-over lower Manhattan by Air Force One and 2 fighter jets. If you missed this, it caused upset and even panic in the  towers of lower Manhattan and in near-by New Jersey as office workers fled their offices, assuming that another attack was under way. The reason given for this  insensitive stupidity was that it was an Photo-op for a shot of AF1 and the Statue of Liberty.

Did you notice that the people in the towers did not wait for “instructions” but fled on their own after seeing/hearing/feeling the effect of the low-flying jet? This area has been hit repeatedly by terrorists- not just once on 9/11, and the people feel that it is up to themselves to get out in order to be protected..that should be clear. Also, it s important to understand that Manhattan air traffic NEVER includes such low-flying aircraft which rattle the windows  of tall towers and rattles nerves.

What disdain the Federal government demonstrated when they said that the public was not informed for security reasons.

I know, this happened yesterday and it is “over”.

The Government apologized. The Mayor spoke out for the City saying that he was not informed, pretty remarkable if so, and that he was furious.

OK,  OK, but to tell you the truth:

Apology Not Really Totally Accepted. Along with an apology, the people in the agency who planned and approved this stupid stunt should come to lower Manhattan for a visit and some sensitivity training. Start by speaking to the people in the area that have experienced 2 attacks.

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New York Pops “26th Birthday Gala” with a GothamGirl Discount

Concert, Events

The New York Pops, which is the symphony orchestra that plays music from the Great American Songbook at the sweetest sounding of all places one can go to listen to music, perhaps anywhere, Carnegie Hall, is hosting their Annual Gala on Monday, April 27th. Proceeds support The New York Pops and its education programs and free Summermusic concerts throughout New York City.

In Carnegie Hall, each seat is a great seat for listening to music, never worry about where you are sitting. Just soak up the music! Idina Menzel will be among those performing and the new musical director Steven Reineke will be conducting.  

New York Pops “26th Birthday Gala”, Monday, April 27, 2009
7:00 PM at Carnegie Hall, Tickets available from $55 – $85

Contact the Carnegie Hall BoxOffice  and remember that GothamGirl readers will receive a 20% discount by entering the code PLAY7861


There is also a Black Tie Dinner/Dance to follow at The Pierre and an online Auction

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Resistance Through Art and Yom ha-Shoa on the Upper West Side

Concert, Events, Film, Lily's notes, Literary event

Each year there are many worthwhile events to mark Yom ha-Shoa, Holocaust Rememberance Day, this year on April 20-21, 2009. Here are some of those events:

“Sixty years ago we performed this opera [Brundibar] at Terezin.  Only a few of us survived.  But when we were performing Brundibar, we forgot where we were, we forgot all our troubles.  Music was part of our resistance against the Nazis.  Music, art, good teachers, and friends mean survival.”    –Ela Weissberger, member of the original cast

Congregation Ansche Chesed’s Yom Hashoah program will be dedicated to the incredible phenomenon of Resistance through Art and will feature music created and performed in Theresienstadt concentration camp. 

Featuring live performances of chamber music by Gideon Klein, a Czech pianist and composer of classical music, teacher and organizer of cultural life in Terezin, as well as an excerpt from the children’s opera “Brundibar” by Hans Krasa, originally performed by the children in Terezin, and now sung by the children of Ansche Chesed. 

There will also be an opportunity to learn and sing songs of the ghetto and resistance together as a community.   While much of this music did not survive, the remaining pieces impress listeners to this day and make us long for more of what might have been written.

Monday Evening, April 20 at Congregation Ansche Chesed 100th St, West End and Broadway

Monday, April 20, 10pm – Tuesday, April 21, 6pm
During the the annual Yom HaShoah commemoration, the Reading of the Names, members of synagogues and the JCC, students and other groups on the Upper West Side take turns reading the names of victems of the Shoa. This begins at 10pm and continues through the night, and through the next day until late afternoon.

This year we are reading from Memorial to the Jews Deported from France 1942-1944 by Serge Klarsfeld. This extraordinary volume is organized by the date of the “convoys” which transported Jews from France to the camps in the east.  This year the all-night reading will take place at Congregation Shaare Zedek, 93rd Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.


honors Yom HaShoah with a special marathon of films remembering the righteous saviors of Jews during the Holocaust. Co-sponsored by the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation and The Simon Wiesenthal Center.


And my friend, Ernie Adams, has had his book published! You have the opportunity to meet him, hear his moving story and experience his warmth and humor.

From Ghetto to Ghetto: An African American Journey to Judaism
A Memoir by Ernest Adams
From Harlem to the south to the Upper West Side, Ernest Adams’ new book is a fascinating memoir that delves into race and religion in America today.
Thu, Apr 30  Meet the Author Talk: 6:30 pm; Reception and Book Signing: 7:30 pm FREE

 JCC of Manhattan. 76th Street and Amsterdam Avenue

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